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Amphibian Pathogens in Southeast Asian Frog Trade

Abstract

Amphibian trade is known to facilitate the geographic spread of pathogens. Here we assess the health of amphibians traded in Southeast Asia for food or as pets, focusing on Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), ranavirus and general clinical condition. Samples were collected from 2,389 individual animals at 51 sites in Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore for Bd screening, and 74 animals in Cambodia and Vietnam for ranavirus screening. Bd was found in one frog (n = 347) in Cambodia and 13 in Singapore (n = 419). No Bd was found in Lao PDR (n = 1,126) or Vietnam (n = 497), and no ranavirus was found in Cambodia (n = 70) or Vietnam (n = 4). Mild to severe dermatological lesions were observed in all East Asian bullfrogs Hoplobatrachus rugolosus (n = 497) sampled in farms in Vietnam. Histologic lesions consistent with sepsis were found within the lesions of three frogs and bacterial sepsis in two (n = 4); one had Gram-negative bacilli and one had acid-fast organisms consistent with mycobacterium sp. These results confirm that Bd is currently rare in amphibian trade in Southeast Asia. The presence of Mycobacterium-associated disease in farmed H. rugolosus is a cause for concern, as it may have public health implications and indicates the need for improved biosecurity in amphibian farming and trade.

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Acknowledgments

General funding for this project was provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society Institute with fieldwork in Singapore funded by the National University of Singapore. We would like to thank Jenny Pramuk, Bryan Stuart, Jodi Rowley, Neang Thy, and Damien O. Joly for assistance in study design and species identification. Generous support was also given in Vietnam by the Department of Animal Health (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), in particular Dr. Le Van Khoa, Department of Aquatic Animal Health and Dr. Ngo Thanh Long, Dr. Nguyen Truc Ha and Phan Thuy Thanh Duyen, Regional Animal Health Office No. 6, the National Animal Health Centre of Lao PDR (in particular Bounlom Douangngeun and Watthana Theppangna), Professor Bounthop Phaxaysombath of the National University of Laos (NUOL) and Nem Sok Heng. Particular thanks are due to sampling teams in Vietnam (Nguyễn Thị Thanh Nga, Phạm Thị Xao, Nguyễn Thị Lan Anh, Tạ Quốc Hiệu, Trịnh Thị Huyền, Mạc Thị Yến, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Hanoi University of Agriculture, Vietnam), Lao PDR (Vannasin Inoudom, Somsai Philakoum), Cambodia (Chea Sokha, Chor Kimashalen, Chea Samban,), and Singapore (Geraldine R. Joseph, Jamie Lim Jingmei, and Zhihan Yeo). Finally we thank Denise McAloose and two anonymous reviewers for help in improving the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Martin Gilbert.

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Gilbert, M., Bickford, D., Clark, L. et al. Amphibian Pathogens in Southeast Asian Frog Trade. EcoHealth 9, 386–398 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-013-0817-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-013-0817-7

Keywords

  • Amphibian trade
  • Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
  • Chytrid
  • Ranavirus
  • Pathogens
  • Mycobacterium
  • Southeast Asia
  • Laos
  • Cambodia
  • Vietnam
  • Singapore